6/13 Revolt: Foucault in Iran (2017)


Daniel Defert (éditeur de Michel Foucault)
Behrooz Ghamari-Tabrizi (University of Illinois at Urbana)
Judith Revel (Université Paris Nanterre)
Moderated by John Rajchman, Daniele Lorenzini, and Bernard E. Harcourt

December 14, 2017 from 6:15 p.m. to 8:45 p.m.
Jerome Greene Annex, Columbia University
(410 West 117th Street, New York)

See also these links


Michel Foucault identified in the Iranian uprising of 1978 a modality of religious political revolt and a form of political spirituality that privileged, in the secular realm, expressly religious aspirations. What Foucault discovered in Iran was, in his words, a political spirituality: a mass mobilization on this earth modeled on the coming of a new Islamic vision of social forms of coexistence and equality.

Foucault described the mass mobilization in Iran as an Islamic uprising. He did not minimize in any way its Islamic religious foundations or modes of expression. On the contrary, Foucault framed the uprising through the lens of Ernst Bloch’s thesis, in The Principle of Hope (3 vols., 1954-1959), on the rise, in Europe, from the twelve to the sixteenth century, of the religious idea that there could come about on this earth a form of religious revolution. Foucault related the events in Iran to this religious model, originally formulated by dissident religious groups in the West at the end of the Middle Ages—and which Foucault referred to as “the point of departure of the very idea of Revolution.”

Foucault explicitly characterized the will of those Iranians in revolt with whom he had contact as taking the form of a “religious eschatology”—not the form of a quest for another political regime, nor in his words for “a regime of clerics,” but instead for a new Islamic horizon. When those in revolt spoke of an Islamic government, Foucault maintained, what they had in mind were new social forms based on a religious spirituality, sharply different than Western models. Foucault pointed to Ali Shariati as the thinker who had most clearly posed the problematic and formulated this vision.

It is to this model of uprising as political spirituality, this modality of religious political revolt that we turn to in Uprising 6/13. By contrast to the modality of revolt that we discussed during our seminar Uprising 3/13 on the Arab Spring, the modality of revolt that Foucault identified in Iran in 1978-79 was expressly and primarily religious. Much (but of course not all, as evidenced once again by subsequent events) of the ideological wellspring in Tahrir Square was more secular, leaderless, and occupational: a form of disobedience against a secular authoritarian regime—at least as portrayed in much of the reportage and documentaries like Tahrir: Liberation Square, directed by Stefano Savona (2012). The situation was very different in 1978 Iran, at least on Foucault’s assessment. And it gives rise to a different modality of revolt: a religious eschatological modality of uprising.

Foucault did not condemn this mode of political spirituality—to the contrary, he wrote about it with respect and admiration for those who rose up and risked their lives against their oppressors. Foucault did warn that “Islam—which is not simply a religion, but a mode of life, a belonging to a history and to a civilization—risks constituting a gigantic powder keg, at the scale of hundreds of millions of people. Since yesterday, any Muslim state can be revolutionized from within, from the basis of its secular traditions.” But he traveled to Iran without hostility, rather with sympathy for the uprising.

And it is here, in his writings on Iran, that Foucault most clearly articulated what he called his own “theoretical ethic”: “It is ‘antistrategic’: to be respectful when a singularity revolts, intransigent as soon as power violates the universal.” (Useless to Revolt?)

Respectful of the individual who rises up, in order to keep one’s indignation and intransigence for the power that represses. What a remarkable statement—and an excellent place to start our seminar on Foucault on Iran: Revolt as Political Spirituality.

Seminar series Seminars

Débat autour du livre de Daniele Lorenzini “Éthique et politique de soi. Foucault, Hadot, Cavell et les techniques de l’ordinaire” (2017)

Les Samedis du Collège international de philosophie
Débat autour du livre de Daniele Lorenzini
“Éthique et politique de soi. Foucault, Hadot, Cavell et les techniques de l’ordinaire” (Paris, Vrin, 2015)

avec Frédéric Gros (Sciences Po), Orazio Irrera (Paris 8/CIPh),
Daniele Lorenzini (Paris 1/Columbia University), Philippe Sabot (Lille 3)

Samedi 25 mars 2017, 10h-13h
Bibliothèque Marguerite Audoux, Salle rez-de-jardin (10 rue Portefoin, 75003 Paris)

Seminar series Seminars

Séminaire Foucault 2016-2017. Autour de L’archéologie du savoir

Affiche SemFouc 16-17


Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne
Institut des sciences juridique et philosophique de la Sorbonne (UMR8103)
Centre de philosophie contemporaine de la Sorbonne (PhiCo)

Séminaire Foucault 2016-2017


Animé par Jean-François Braunstein et Daniele Lorenzini

Les séances ont lieu de 10h30 à 12h30 à l’Université Paris 1, UFR de Philosophie, 17 rue de la Sorbonne, Paris 5e, escalier C, 1er étage, salle Lalande

15 octobre 2016
David SIMONETTA (Collège de France)
« Histoire des idées et histoire des sciences dans L’archéologie du savoir et les épreuves inédites »

19 novembre 2016
Martin RUEFF (Université de Genève)
Titre à préciser

17 décembre 2016
Philippe SABOT (Université Lille 3)
« Le statut de l’événement dans L’archéologie du savoir »

21 janvier 2017
Judith REVEL (Université Paris Ouest Nanterre)
« Le visible et le caché. Quelques remarques sur la place des problèmes historiographiques dans L’archéologie du savoir »

18 mars 2017
Matteo VAGELLI (Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne)
« L’archéologie aux États-Unis. Remarques pour une relecture du “Foucault américain” »

20 mai 2017
Jocelyn BENOIST (Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne)
« L’histoire en extériorité »

Pour pouvoir assister au séminaire, l’inscription est obligatoire. Veuillez envoyer un mail, d’ici le vendredi 14 octobre, à l’adresse suivante : seminairefoucault@gmail.com. Une pièce d’identité vous sera demandée à l’entrée du bâtiment de la Sorbonne.

Seminar series Seminars

Formas de vida e práticas dos valores: políticas da subjectividade no último Foucault (2016-2017)

Formas de vida e práticas dos valores: políticas da subjectividade no último Foucault
October 26, 2016 – February 15, 2017
Ciclo de seminários do EPLab

Todas as sessões se realizarão das 18h00 às 20h00, em sala a anunciar.

IFILNOVA – Instituto de Filosofia da Nova
Faculdade de Ciências Sociais e Humanas – Universidade Nova de Lisboa
Av. Berna 26, Lisboa


Coordenação: Marta Faustino e Gianfranco Ferraro

26 Out – Marta Faustino: “A dimensão ético-politica do pensamento de Foucault”
16 Nov – José Caselas: “O sujeito reencontrado: a subjectividade como categoria política”
14 Dez – Marilia Muyalert: “A clinica do comum – desdobramentos de Foucault”
18 Jan – Gianfranco Ferraro: “Verdade e transformação de si: um pensamento do desassossego”
15 Fev – Paulo Roberto: “A parrésia em Foucault”

Seminar series Seminars

New website for Foucault 13/13 (2016)

Message from Jesús Velasco and Bernard Harcourt

We are launching a new website for Foucault 13/13! The new website will allow readers to go directly to all of the individual seminars and find there the video, your posts, and other resources. We think that it will make the articles and video far more accessible.

Please visit the new site

You will land on the upcoming seminar, 9/13, but then will be able to navigate to all the others. The official homepage is here: http://blogs.law.columbia.edu/foucault1313/about/

Naturally, we are working out all the kinks and checking that the links are all good, if you come across any problems, please do not hesitate to bring it to our attention. Especially for those of you who have already posted, please tell us if you encounter any problems with your posts.

We want to thank the tireless efforts of Alex Gil, who has spearheaded this new site and our dedicated graduate students who have made this possible, Ibai Atutxa, Raphaëlle Burns, Agnese Codebo, and Luca Provenzano.

We hope you enjoy the new site and share it with others! Please do share it with anyone who you think might find it useful. And we look forward to seeing you this Thursday at Foucault 9/13!

Warm regards, Jesús Velasco and Bernard Harcourt

Seminar series Seminars Websites and blogs

Foucault 8/13: LIVESTREAM (2016)

Foucault 8/13: LIVESTREAM 

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Nancy Fraser, Kendall Thomas, and Richard Brooks discuss Foucault’s eighth lecture series at the Collège de France, Birth of Biopolitics (1978-1979). Please watch the livestream of the seminar here or below. We will also have a livestream overflow and discussion room at Columbia Law School, in Jerome Greene Hall room 101, beginning at 6:15 pm. Please also read the introductory posts presenting the seminar discussion by Nancy Fraser, Kendall Thomas, and Richard Brooks, and the framing essays by François Ewald and Bernard Harcourt. Bibliographical references for the seminar are here. Welcome to Foucault 8/13!

Seminar series Seminars Video and audio